ATLANTA, Ga. (March 31, 2017)– Georgia’s doctors of optometry today thanked members of the Georgia State Senate who approved legislation that aims to improve access to eye care treatment for patients and enable Georgia to continue to attract top-tier medical talent. By a vote of 30-21, the Senate voted to agree to SB 153 (Brass, Mullis), which would allow doctors of optometry to perform certain types of injections in and around the eye. Approved by the House of Representatives last week with a vote of 121 to 36, the bill would enable Georgia to join with more than 14 other states, including neighboring Tennessee, that authorize doctors of optometry to perform limited injections to areas near the eye.
The bill now moves to the governor's desk where it awaits his signature. The governor has 40 days to sign or veto a bill.
“With this passage, members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate are acknowledging that Georgia’s doctors of optometry are highly skilled, well-trained and experienced medical professionals who are working to give their patients access to much-needed eye care services,” said Dr. Ben Casella, president of the Georgia Optometric Association. “On behalf of my more than 700 colleagues serving communities throughout the state, I wish to thank the members of the Georgia General Assembly for their willingness to listen to and work with us on this issue.”
“As we stated during our various testimonies, as the training for doctors of optometry continues to increase to keep up with advancing technology, it is essential for state law to keep up as well,” continued Dr. Casella. “SB 153 makes that possible. The process of treatmenvia injection has been taught, both didactically and clinically, in colleges of optometry for many years.”
“Consumers in more than 15 states have access to doctors of optometry authorized to perform these procedures for which the doctors have received intensive training,” continued Dr. Casella. “Doctors of optometry graduating today may select where to practice based on their authorization to use the training they received during their extensive years of study. We proposed this legislation because we want to ensure that Georgia remains pro-business and continues to attract the brightest and best in the profession of optometry.”
Under the terms of the legislation, a credentialing system for doctors of optometry seeking to perform certain injections into the eyelid and mucus membrane of the eye would be established. While the process of treatment via injection has been taught in schools of optometry for many years, all doctors of optometry in Georgia seeking to offer this treatment would be required to receive additional training and a certification to perform injections with the training taught by an ophthalmologist.
The legislation would increase patient access to treatment while simultaneously decreasing the cost to the patient. There are currently more than 1,000 practicing optometrists located throughout Georgia, while there are only about 350 ophthalmologists, according to the AOA Research & Information Center. The legislation would increase patient access to eye care treatment via injection and reduce the waiting time consumers may experience for such treatment.
According to representatives of the Southern College of Optometry, which has trained a large number of doctors of optometry practicing in Georgia, every graduate of SCO since 1995 has received injections training. Optometry students practice on each other during the first and second years of study when they are learning the principles of injection. During clinical training, which is done during the third and fourth years of study, students practice on patients. During continuing education studies, a day or two in duration, doctors of optometry conduct practice sessions on their fellow doctors.
Recent medical advances have resulted in some medications being administered via injection to treat styes, warts and cysts. Medications delivered via an injection into the lid often have fewer side effects than do oral medications. Researchers are working to introduce new technology involving the use of microneedles to treat glaucoma and corneal neovascularization. This technology would greatly improve the medical treatment of these diseases by providing a more accurate and successful delivery method to patients.
For more information about the Georgia Optometric Association or to find an optometrist near you please visit www.GOAeyes.com.